Samsung is famous from their smartphones. More knowledgeable people also know that the company is working on its chipsets that include LTE modems. In addition, Koreans are trying their best as the telecom equipment vendor and prepare their own LTE base stations. Therefore, Samsung joining to the MulteFire Alliance should not surprise anyone. The future of LTE goes towards the unlicensed frequencies that today are used by Wi-Fi networks.
LTE technology is quite fast, especially when we have a device that supports carrier aggregation. However, lack of radio resources limits the performance of current 4G networks. A lot of operators do not have 20 MHz frequency blocks in each band. However, this is not the wrong will of regulators. There is simply not enough resources for every mobile carrier at low frequency bands. Therefore, 3GPP has long been working on two solutions: LTE-U (LTE Unlicensed) and LAA (Licensed Assisted Access). MulteFire uses these solutions, but adds also several improvements.
Samsung joins other companies already working in the MulteFire Alliance.
The MulteFire association includes SoftBank, Cisco, Qualcomm, Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, Intel and American Tower. So here we have operators, telecom equipment and mobile device chipsets providers. The organization will also deal with certification of devices working in the new standard. MulteFire does not focus solely on extending the capabilities of LTE networks, but it also ensures co-existence with Wi-Fi networks. It also provides a solution where MulteFire hotspots can support customers of different operators. Nowadays, we have a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere, and some smartphones offer simultaneous data downloads over LTE and Wi-Fi networks. However, MulteFire will do this in more efficient way. Devices using unlicensed spectrum will first listen and then transmit data. This will reduce the level of interference, which translates into faster data transfer for all devices. Also, the aggregation of licensed LTE bands and unlicensed frequencies will be on the device side rather than the smartphone applications. So the downloaded file will actually be sent to us using several frequency channels. In addition to mobility support, the handover from MulteFire to LTE will be smooth.
For now, we do not know when the first MulteFire devices will appear on the market. Qualcomm and Ericsson, along with Verizon of the United States, have recently demonstrated LTE-U/LAA technology. Thanks to this, they reached a speed close to the magic 1 Gbps.